A man who ran a worldwide £250,000-a-year fake clothing racket from the garage of his home has been jailed for two years.
Father of three Ian Guy ignored repeated warnings to halt the massive counterfeit trade by which goods were sold throughout the globe via the internet.
The 38-year-old’s copy cat business Guy Tees cost major companies such as Porsche and Yamaha together with a host of top pop singers and bands over £500,000 in two years in potential losses by printing their copyrighted logos and images on T-shirts and hoodies, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
Sales of the fake goods on ebay between 2010 to 2012 topped £250,000, revealed Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting, who said: “The operation was professional, well organised and extremely profitable, selling literally worldwide.”
Guy started a small scale legitimate enterprise in 2005 but five years later was using state-of-the-art copying equipment in the garage of his home in John Corbett Drive, Stourbridge, to churn out vast amounts of counterfeit clothing.
Solicitors for companies hit by the racket told him to stop in December 2011 and July of the following year but he carried on regardless while claiming child tax credit and never declaring his true earnings to the authorities, said Mr Jackson. But a tip-off triggered an investigation by Dudley Trading Standards culminating in a September 2012 raid on Guy’s home that revealed counterfeiting equipment, hundreds of blank T-shirts, dozens of goods packaged for dispatch and a sheaf of tell tale documents.
Analysis of computer equipment disclosed 2,500 files of trademark images and details of over 300 T-shirts and hoodies together with links to the state of the art printers that copied the counterfeit images onto blank clothing.
Mr Stephen Hamblett, defending, said: “This was not fraudulent from the outset. He saw what others were doing on eBay and ventured into it himself. He has brought ruin on his family. There are no winners in this case.”
Guy admitted seven specimen charges including knowingly carrying on a business for the fraudulent production, sale and supply of counterfeit goods and their packaging.
He was sent to prison by Judge Martin Walsh who told him: “This business undermined the integrity of legitimate commercial practice. It was significant in scale, displayed a high degree of professionalism but was run from your garage.”
Guy was given six months to pay £130,000 agreed to be the benefit from his crime or face a further two years in jail and pay £18,500 costs to Dudley Council. He will have to sell or remortgage his house.
Dudley Express and Star, May 29 2015,